Saturday, October 30, 2010

National Novel Writing Month Preparations

I've realized that I have three major research papers due next month. Ha. I'm going to dedicate myself to doing research for those papers tonight and tomorrow, partly to keep myself from going stir crazy while I wait to start noveling, but also so I don't endanger my academic scholarship by forgetting about them completely.
I must admit, I find it difficult to focus on the satire of Troilus and Cressida and the defamiliarization of Emily Dickinson's poetry while all I want to do is get into ~Mystery Mode~. In fact, I have been quite distracted and found myself spending my yesterday evening reading The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I was also looking over "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" because it is one of only two stories written from Holmes' point of view.
Though this may be a cardinal sin of mystery writing because it has been done so many times, my protagonist is a bit Holmesian. Mainly in their method of logic and their tendency toward solitude (with the exception of one close associate), and maybe an odd quirk here or there. I like to believe my character will be interesting and though in some ways similar to Holmes, their own unique and attractive character. One of the major differences is that my character is a 22 year old female. According to Doyle's cannon, Holmes started solving mysteries as an undergraduate student before he decided to become a consulting detective.
I thought it would be interesting to write a story about a similar sort of anti-social genius solving their first case and finding the perfect use for their talent and intellect. I am very excited by this character, she is the kind of figure I would enjoy reading about or watching, which I think is a good place to start. There are also many opportunities to write great banter with such a character.
Here's a challenge I know I will face as I continue working on this story: writing a character smarter than I am. I believe myself to be an intelligent person, but this girl has to be utterly brilliant, it's difficult to stretch the mind and imagine the thoughts of someone smarter than you. That is why Doyle told most of his stories from Watson's perspective I believe.
My plan for the narrative is a third person, semi-omniscient structure. Telling it from the sidekick's point of view would omit several scenes I've plotted that I believe are very important to building my protagonist's journey.
“Sherlock Holmes took his bottle from the corner of the mantelpiece, and his hypodermic syringe from its neat morocco case. With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle and rolled back his left shirtcuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist, all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally, he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined armchair with a long sigh of satisfaction.”
The Sign of Four, chapter 1 paragraph 1

Unlike Sherlock's cocaine and morphine habit, my character lives on coffee and red wine. Probably about the modern equivalent in a social sense- perfectly legal (as the cocaine and morphine were) uppers and downers.
Incidentally, there is a society for female Sherlockians called ASH: Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes (created because the Baker Street Irregulars wouldn't allow female members until 1991). Check out their website here. Now I kind of want to join. Okay, more than kind of.

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